Monday, November 20, 2006

UM 39, OS 42

Yes, the heading of this post says "OS" rather than "OSU." This may be an overstatement of my point, but by "OS," I meant "Ohio Stadium." I obviously don't want to suggest that the field was OSU's whole team - Michigan certainly didn't give up all 42 points to grass - but I will not back down from considering the playing surface a kind of "12th Man" for OSU.

"But both teams had to play on the same surface," you might say. Maybe, but Ohio State provided it. Possibly relevant to this discussion is the fact that Ohio State did not seem to have as much trouble with footing as Michigan did. I will readily admit that bias sometimes colors one's perception of a game - I noticed a few penalties that I certainly think could have been called on OSU, but I wouldn't doubt that I ignored the same number of uncalled Michigan penalties - but I am firmly convinced that there were many more footing problems for Michigan than for OSU.

"But that's called Home Field Advantage," you might say. Bullshit, I might say. Home Field Advantage means you get to sleep in your beds (or at least your normal pre-game beds somewhere off campus), you get to eat where you are used to eating, you get to hear the crowd cheering for you and cheering against your opponent and drowning out Chad Henne's audibles. It doesn't mean you are supposed to be more accustomed to the playing surface, which is radically different from any other field in the conference. The game of football is what is supposed to be consistent regardless of where the game is played. Maybe it never has been perfectly consistent, but in the year 2006, it should be closer than this.

To illustrate: if a football team were hosting another football team and the playing surface of their stadium turned out to be covered with an actual ice rink, and the home team was wearing some sort of ice-skate shoes, or the home team was obviously accustomed to walking on ice, we would consider that almost criminal. I submit that the Ohio Stadium "turf" was only a couple steps from that extreme level of sinful inequality. I really believe that, while Ohio State was playing football, Michigan was playing a different game, entitled, "Figure Out How to Play Football on This Field."

What all this leads to, as you might have guessed, is that I don't think a rematch for the National Championship is unreasonable anymore. If I were a fan of any other program, I would probably complain about Michigan's instant shot at redemption; if I were a fan of OSU, I would certainly not want to play Michigan again, on a field on which both teams had the same opportunity to practice. But I flatter myself and suppose that cold, hard logic favors my position, even without the benefit of my pro-Michigan bias. Michigan is certainly the only one-loss team in the country with so great an excuse for their loss, and Michigan definitely looked good enough on Saturday to beat the consensus #1-ranked team on a neutral field, which has been hard to say about the other contenders at certain points throughout the season. I know it's self-serving, but if the BCS ends up with Michigan in the 2-spot, I would not think it was incorrect.

I'm bad at this process, but I'll try to add more thoughts later, on the likelihood of Michigan's BCS
Championship Game inclusion, and anything else that intrigues me. For instance, the BCS intrigues me somewhat... I'm not sure how Michigan is still so far above USC, given USC's lead in both polls. I thought two was more than one. But I do hate USC, and they've been overrated all year, so I don't mind.

Anyway, time for work.


Blogger Joe (Livonia, MI) said...

I wouldn't say that logic favors your position more than others. While you may feel that the field only affected Michigan, most would argue otherwise. Certainly, I saw 21 Buckeye points scored without any Michigan defenders losing their footing. Other teams have defeated more ranked teams and more bowl teams in the regular season than Michigan has.

Finally, we know one thing for sure--that Michigan is not the #1 team in the country. Let's give someone else a chance to prove that they are.

11:48 AM  

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